Amanda Gorman on new book, and why she still feels like an “outsider”

Amanda Gorman on new book, and why she still feels like an “outsider”

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Amanda Gorman reads new poem, “Fugue”

Amanda Gorman reads new poem, “Fugue”


Poet and bestselling author Amanda Gorman is having a very big year. At 22, Gorman became the youngest inaugural poet when she performed at the 59th Presidential Inauguration. She also recited the first-ever pre-game poem at Super Bowl LV.

That was only the beginning for the 23-year-old. Since then, Gorman has appeared on the cover of Time Magazine and Variety. She has partnered with Estee Lauder and signed with IMG Models.  

Gorman told “CBS Mornings” co-host Gayle King that over the past year, she’s felt like she was “kind of shot out of a cannon and trying to fly high.” 

But the nation’s first ever Youth Poet Laureate said her recent success had also brought fear — that she won’t be able to live up to expectations. 

“I think one of the scary things about being on a rocket is just, sometimes [it] feels like the higher you climb, the harder you’ll fall. And so for a lot of the year it was, I think, also frightening and terrifying,” she told King. “Could I live up to this expectation? Could I live up to this image and idea that people had kind of made of me?”  

Many would say that Gorman exceeds expectations. And while everyone knows her name, she told CBS News that she still feels like an outsider.  

“I think there’s like, a little bit of impostor syndrome, because I’m such a nerd, such a geek,” she said. “I think when I was growing up, you know, I wasn’t just, kind of a really brainy kid, I was a really Black kid, I was a really skinny kid, I was a really small kid.”  

“Also, a kid whose voice was kind of distorted by a speech impediment,” she told King. “So, all of these things kind of made me feel as ‘othered,’ or too different, you might say. And so, yeah, it really made me feel sometimes on the outside looking in… And I think nowadays, with more age behind me, I look back at it and I am so grateful for that experience, because all the things that make me different make me who I am. And they make me great.” 

On Tuesday, Gorman released her third book this year: “Call Us What We Carry,” which she said would serve as a record of the baggage, and the blessings, that have been carried through the pandemic. 

Only on “CBS Mornings,” Gorman gave an exclusive preview of her new poem, “Fugue.” 

Read the poem below: 


Don’t get us wrong. 
We do pound for what has passed, 
But more so all that we passed by- 
Unthanking, unknowing, 
When what we had was ours. 
There was another gap that choked us: 
The simple gift of farewell. 
Goodbye, by which we say to another- 
Thanks for offering your life into mine. 
By Goodbye, we truly mean: 
Let us be able to say hello again. 
This is edgeless doubt: 
Every cough seemed catastrophe, 
Every proximate person a potential peril. 
We mapped each sneeze & sniffle, 
Certain the virus we had run away from 
Was now running through us. 
We slept the days down. 
We wept the year away, 
Frayed & afraid. 
We spent days as the walking dead, 
Dreading disease & disaster. 
We awaited horrors, 
Building up leviathans before they arose. 
We could not pull our heads 
From the raucous deep. 
Every time we fell heart-first into the news, 
Head-first, dread-first, 
Our bodies tight & tensed with what now? 
Yet who has the courage to inquire what if? 
What hope shall we shelter 
Within us like a secret, 
Second smile, 
Private & pure. 
& so, we forage for anything 
That feels like this: 
The click in our lung that ties us to strangers, 
How when among those we care for most 
We shift with instinct, 
Like the flash of a school of fish. 
Our regard for one another 
Not tumored, 
Just transformed. 
By Hello, we mean: 
Let us not say goodbye again. 
There is someone we would die for. 
Feel that fierce, unshifting truth, 
That braced & ready sacrifice. 
That’s what love does: 
It makes a fact faced beyond fear. 
We have lost too much to lose. 
We lean against each other again, 
The way water bleeds into itself. 
This glassed hour, paused, 
Bursts like a loaded star, 
Belonging always to us. 
What more must we believe in. 

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